Boehner: Obama has 'given up' on governing to campaign for 2012

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Bottom line Cheney battle raises questions about House GOP's future MORE (R-Ohio) on Thursday unleashed some of his most stinging criticism against President Obama, accusing him of giving up on governing the country while he campaigns full-time for reelection.

“Nothing has disappointed me more than what's happened over the last five weeks, to watch the president of the United States give up on governing, give up on leading and spend full-time campaigning,” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Bottom line Cheney battle raises questions about House GOP's future MORE said during an appearance at the Washington Ideas Forum. He said Obama has “throw[n] in the towel” on improving the economy. “We’re legislating, he’s campaigning. It’s very disappointing.”

Obama has traveled across the country in recent weeks and given campaign-style speeches to spur Congress to pass his jobs bill. The approach is a marked difference from his tactics earlier in the year, when he focused on negotiating with Republican leaders on spending and debt issues.

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The president defended his approach at a nearly simultaneous White House press conference, saying that without cooperation from GOP leaders, he needed to persuade Americans to pressure their members of Congress to support his plan.

The Speaker’s comments reflected a continued deterioration in his relationship with the president following the collapse of their negotiations for a “grand bargain” on deficit reduction this summer. Boehner and Obama are now largely talking past one another.

The Speaker bemoaned the failed attempt to get a “big deal,” saying it was Obama who couldn’t seal the agreement. “It takes two to tango,” Boehner said. “You have to have a willing partner.” Obama at various points has used identical language to describe what he characterized as Boehner’s unwillingness to strike a deal.

At the same time, Boehner offered unqualified praise for Obama’s handling of the war on terrorism.

“I’ve been very supportive of the president’s decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “I think so far the president’s done just fine.”

And Boehner said in at least one area of the war, Obama has exceeded the achievements of the Bush administration.


“When you look at the prosecution of the war effort against the enemy in the tribal areas, there’s clearly more been done under President Obama than there was under President Bush, in terms of a more aggressive effort focused at them,” he said.

Addressing internal GOP politics, the Speaker acknowledged in more frank terms than he has before that opposition from a significant bloc of conservatives to some GOP spending bills has weakened his hand in negotiations with the Democrats.

“There’s no question it does, and I’ve made it clear to my colleagues that when I don’t have 218 frogs in the wheelbarrow at one time, I don’t have the strongest hand I could have,” Boehner said. “Some of our members just want more. They want more change.”